Defying genre borders, multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Jessica Lurie satisfies on Megaphone Heart, designing a multilayered sonic structure with an impressive ensemble that’s anchored by the crack rhythm team of bassist/co-producer Todd Sickafoose and drummer Allison Miller. Co-producer Lurie, who picks up alto, tenor and baritone saxophones and flute throughout, melds lyrical pop, stinging rock, rhythmic Eastern European folk music and improvisation-heavy jazz with a dose of free-wheeling avant-groove-meets-grind.
Rhythmically rich, Megaphone Heart alternately expresses glee and sobriety, allure and clamor, wit and humor without falling prey to stylistic traps. Witness the bouncy one-minute leadoff “Steady Drum” followed by the delightful “A Million Pieces All in One,” which opens with Brandon Seabrook’s Peruvian music-inspired banjo melody and then dips into Lurie’s flute interludes, zesty Miller percussion and electronic effects. “Boot Heels” ripens in 11/8 time, with a sinuous Balkan music flair, and the slow-moving title track finds Lurie singing and dubbing in harmonic phrasings through a megaphone. Melodic beauties include the mysterious sax and piano “Same Moon” and the poignant end song “Once.” In Lurie’s notes to her tune “Maps,” she says that in order to rediscover her balance and sense of self, she tosses out “the stacks of maps, disconnects the GPS and drives blind, listening.” That’s the perfect mode for taking in the entirety of Lurie’s musically multifaceted gem: casting off expectations and tuning in with an attentive ear.